Highland County Economic Development Authority’s August Meeting

The Highland County Economic Development Authority held it’s monthly meeting on August 15.

The EDA welcomed it’s newest member, Aaron Thaler.

EDA Chair George Hogshead said he has reached out to the cell providers in Monterey to see if any systems need to be checked or if there are any problems that need to be addressed.  He reached out in response to a letter to the editor in The Recorder regarding poor cell service Monterey.

EDA member Jamie Collins reported on the Remote Work Project through the Rural Community Development Initiative.  She said work has begun on promoting Highland County as a place to live, where you can bring your job with you.  At the recent Mountain Mama Road Bike Challenge, Collins and fellow EDA member Patti Hrovat, welcomed riders and manned a table on Friday evening with a display promoting the county.  Collins also said that the four organizations that are included in the RCDI work, the EDA, the Chamber, the Tourism Council and The Highland Center, have begun working on strategic plans and goals.  Collins presented a draft of the updated EDA goals.   She said the goals are to support the sustainability of Highland and some are increasing local support and communication for businesses, supporting completion of The Highland Inn, working on resident and business attraction and improving cell coverage.  EDA members will review the draft and will discuss it further at the September meeting.

EDA Economic Development Officer Betty Mitchell reported that businesses are encouraged to apply for assistance through the Small Business Development Center grants, which are funded by a GO Virginia grant.  The program gives businesses the chance to get assistance from an outside vendor for marketing, finance or operational efficiencies.  Fees will be paid by the GO Virginia funding.  The EDA paid a match of $500, so Highland businesses could be eligible for the program.   It is open to existing businesses, not start-up businesses.  For information on the application process, visit www.ValleySBDC.org

Betty Mitchell also reported that she spoke with the 2021 Incentive Grant recipient regarding repayment of half of the grant that was received.  The recipient moved away from Highland, before two years after the receipt of the grant, so is required to repay half.  Mitchell said the recipient is aware of the obligation and is working on a plan for the repayment in the next six months.

And the 2023 Incentive Grant Program applications will be accepted by the EDA beginning the week of November 22.  Applications are due by January 16, 2023.   The 2023 Incentive Grant Committee, which will review the applications, are EDA members Dail Fields, Kirk Billingsley and Jamie Collins.   The EDA plans to vote on grant recipients at its February 2023 meeting.

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Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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